Clutch Control At Low Speed  |  Learn to drive: Car control skills

Clutch Control At Low Speed | Learn to drive: Car control skills


A driver will often need to be able to drive
slowly, for example when in a traffic queue or urban area. This might look easy to do,
but it can be difficult to achieve for a new driver until they get a good understanding
of clutch control. This video will look in detail at how to control a car’s clutch
at low speed, and then use these skills to go for a drive in a tricky urban area. We are using a diesel engined car here, but
any modern car with either a petrol or diesel engine should behave in a similar way to our
car. In a modern car the engine computer (or ECU) will automatically increase engine power
as we start to move the car forward, which reduces the chance of stalling. However, older
cars can be more difficult to drive, as they won’t have an ECU to control its engine
as smoothly and efficiently. This means that when pulling away in an older car we will
probably need to use the accelerator pedal to get extra power from the engine to reduce
the chance of stalling. It is possible to move a car very slowly by
just using the clutch pedal alone. We wouldn’t normally pull away in traffic like this, as
we can only move the car really slowly. However, this can be a useful technique for when we
need to edge forward at tight junctions or when manoeuvring. We’re practicing on a
flat and quiet road here, so let’s see how this works. We fully press the clutch pedal,
select 1st gear, then lift our left foot really gently – until we find the ‘biting point’.
At this point the clutch is just starting to connect the engine to the wheels, and this
provides a little forward drive. Once the car starts to roll, we must keep our foot
dead still until we reach walking pace, and then we can engage the clutch fully. Once
the car is rolling we can gently adjust the amount of clutch bite we are using to vary
the car’s speed. Pushing the pedal down a little will give less forward drive, or if
we lift the clutch pedal up a little this will give more forward drive. Once the car
reaches about walking pace again we should lift the clutch pedal up to fully engage 1st
gear. We can now roll along with the engine idling, or use the accelerator to increase
our speed. When we need to stop the car, we must remember to push the clutch pedal down
a couple of car lengths before we stop – otherwise the brakes will stop the engine as well as
the wheels, making the car judder to a halt with a stall! When pulling away in traffic we would normally
use a little extra engine power. This extra power will allow us to move forward more confidently
and with less chance of stalling the engine. For this technique we need to gently press
and hold the accelerator, until the engine speed is just above 1000rpm. Then as we lift
the clutch pedal up to the ‘biting point’ the car will start moving forward. Once we
are up to about 10mph we can change into 2nd gear and keep accelerating smoothly. As we
pull over again we must remember to push the clutch down a few seconds before we stop the
car – to avoid stalling the engine. Lets watch that again, this time in slow motion. We select
1st gear … increase the engine revs … find the clutch bite … engage the clutch … and
then change into 2nd gear. This technique is especially useful when driving older cars,
as it greatly reduces the chance of stalling the engine. Sometimes we might need to pull away more
quickly, such as when we are joining a major road or busy roundabout. First let’s watch
from inside the car. We use a little more engine revs than normal – as this extra power
will allow us to use more of the clutch’s biting point to accelerate the car quickly,
before changing into 2nd and 3rd gears. Let’s stop, and then watch the next go in slow motion.
We balance just the right amount of engine power and clutch bite, and the car is straight
up to speed! If you are finding it difficult to move your
car forward without stalling it’s engine, then it’s good to understand why it’s happening.
Most stalls are caused by using using too much of the clutch’s biting point, or fully
engaging the clutch before the car has reached walking pace. Our left foot needs to move
very precisely to control the clutch pedal, so if you can, try keeping the heel of your
left foot touching the floor, and pivot your foot with your ankle. This gives more control
than lifting your foot up off the floor and moving your whole leg. Let’s drive to a tight residential area
with lots of tight corners and parked cars. We will need to drive very slowly in places,
so it’s a great place to practice all the skills we looked at earlier. For this junction we are rolling along at
the minimum speed of 2nd gear without pressing the accelerator pedal. The engine is at idle
speed, and the car will keep rolling along on its own like this for as long as its needed.
Most cars will do this in 1st, 2nd and 3rd gears and this can be useful when driving
slowly. This next junction is very tight, so we decide
to slow the car down and select 1st gear. This gives us more time to look for other
traffic, before we turn left and continue. We change back into second and continue rolling
along at idle. If we need to increase our speed we can accelerate
the car as normal, but if we need to slow the car to less than the current gear’s
minimum speed we will have to be careful. If we simply press the brake pedal we will
feel the engine resist the brakes, shudder a little then stall. Instead, we should press
the clutch pedal down and adjust the biting point to control the amount of drive to the
wheels, just as we practiced earlier in 1st gear. When doing this in 2nd gear we need
to be careful not to let the car get too slow, as it will be very easy to stall the engine
when we try to speed up again. Since This next junction is very tight, we change down
to 1st gear once more. This road is fairly flat, but it is worth
remembering that the gradients we will find on other roads will affect the way the car
behaves. Any downhill gradient will allow the car to roll forward more easily, so we
will find it easier to get up to speed when moving away. However, any uphill gradient
will make it harder for the car to get going – so we will need to be more patient when
waiting for the car to move, and possibly even use a lower gear than normal to get enough
power to the wheels. For these tight turns, we decide to stay in
2nd gear and use the biting point to keep the car rolling. We need to be patient when
using 2nd gear like this, as we need to reach around 10mph before lifting the clutch pedal
back up to fully engage the gear. Using the biting point like this is called ‘slipping
the clutch’ , and as long as we only do it for a few seconds at a time it will not wear
the car’s clutch any faster than normal. Just a little further to go now, we let the
car idle in 2nd gear as we steer around these bends. It’s good to keep our left foot ready
to press the clutch in this situation, as if we spot a hazard and need to brake quickly
we will also need to push the clutch down to stop the engine stalling. One more careful left turn and we’re back
to our original road. So, remember to;
Use extra engine power when needed Keep the clutch at biting point until walking
pace Adjust the biting point to vary the car’s
speed Push the clutch down when stopping If you found this video interesting then please
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